Portrait Photography Fundamental Principles

Shooting portrait photographs can be hugely gratifying. It’s an opportunity to present the best aspect of somebody, and create a picture which communicates something exceptional.

The 1st guideline of very good portrait photography is to examine your subject.

This does sound simplistic but take a browse through every one of the images you have of your friends and relations to see if there isn’t a kind of similarity to them all. Cut off head and shoulder shots, uneasy posing, goofy expressions, empty staring, frozen smiles…?

Everybody has some individual feature that should certainly be photographed. It doesn’t need to be perfect skin, a renovated nose, pouting lips, beautiful eyes. Nonetheless it should really be a unique quality which communicates the person’s uniqueness.

Sound challenging? It isn’t if you adhere to some fundamental tips.

Compose Vertically.

Shift the camera to one side. A portrait image ordinarily features the head and torso and sometimes may include the hands. These are preferable in a vertical format. Horizontal framing leaves you with wide open spaces each side of the person which could take away from the sense of the shot.

Attempt to Influence Precisely How your Subject is Clothed.

If this is to be an almost formal portrait photo you could possibly propose what outfits are to be worn. Solid, dark or light colorings work most effectively. Patterns, checks, stripes and swirls bring in confusion to the eye of the viewer. Bold colors can overpower the skin tones. A vee or scoop neck is preferable to a round neck. For older women or men, conceal the shoulders, for young women leave them exposed.

Try to use the available light effectively.

Locate the individual where the light is gentle and emerging mostly from one direction. This can supply a moody sense and usually gives the eyes more attention. You may use a reflector on the shadowed side to bounce the light should the contrast between shadow and highlight is too harsh. A basic reflector can be produced by overlaying a piece of cardboard with lightweight aluminum foil.

You Should Not Use Direct Camera Flash.

Flash light is lighting in it’s most dull incarnation. Very rarely it may elevate a shot into dazzling life, but usually the use of available lighting is more desirable. Flash has a tendency to give you a bland look and the occurrence of the flash going off gets rid of any intimate ambiance you may have built.

Try a Telephoto Lens. 105-135mm is normally best. (Just do not use a wide angle.)

Let Your Subject be Seated.

This helps put them at ease by having somewhere to “be” and helps you in being able to guide them more easily. Give your subject guidance.

Decide on Your Subject’s “best side”.

People in actual fact do have one. Get one shoulder turned toward the camera so one side is favored a touch. Check out the pose other ways and try to discover which way is the better.

In a portrait photograph, you are addressing modest movements and shifts of situation and perspective. Attempt to shoot a little above the subject to make the eyes open up more. Perhaps look into bringing down the shoulder closest to the camera, get the head straight or at an interesting angle. Take the chin down a little.

Some people look better when they smile but some do not. You may get more absorbing expressions and subtleties without a smile. Tell the individual to think about anything they like doing. This will emphasize the eyes and call attention to the mouth lines.

If the hands are inside the picture, take a good look at them. Hands can now and again look uncomfortable or perhaps ugly. A casually closed fist is typically fairly neutral. Position the hands in the lap or resting on a knee and verify how it seems. Crop them off later if they don’t work.

When you’re photographing candid portraits most of the same steps are recommended though in these particular shots you’ll want to remember to move around to get the perfect angles.

Click here for more detailed digital photography techniques and wedding photography techniques.


7 thoughts on “Portrait Photography Fundamental Principles”

  1. Thankyou for the insightful tips! My favourite is “Tell the individual to think about anything they like doing. This will emphasize the eyes and call attention to the mouth lines.” I have done a bit of portrait photography using off-camera umbrella main flash, fill light and a hair light. but I really prefer the challenge of shooting in whatever light is available – keeping the atmosphere relaxed. Some of my best “portrtaits” have been quick on-the-fly shots which minimize that “frozen smile” look.

  2. Very nicely said. Covering these basic concepts is difficult to explain. You covered and started the thought process in a great area.
    A Smile like you mention doesn’t always happen to make the face pretty. But a Smile from the eyes opens up the personality for the camera to capture!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Mark G

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